Groundbreaking Wing Chun Instructor Expands Expertise over Greatmats

Chris Damiano Builds Academy into One of the Best in Gulf Coast

By Brett Hart

After 32 years in martial arts, Sifu Chris Damiano has been round the world honing his skills in everything from wrestling to Hapkido to Judo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jeet Kune Do and has developed a strong understanding of what works for him and his students.

A Chicago native, Sifu Damiano originally moved to Florida because he needed training partners. Soon he was teaching others how to be his training partners.

Chris Damiano owner Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Wing Chun
In 1994, he narrowed his focus exclusively to Wing Chung and six years later traveled to Hong Kong to study with Grandmaster Ip Ching, the second eldest son of Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man. Damiano later became an instructor under Ip Ching, opening Centerline Martial Arts out of his garage in Destin, Florida in 2000. A contractor during the day, Sifu Damiano finally opened Centerline as a full-time martial arts academy in 2007. He quickly became one of the most sought after instructors in the Gulf Coast and was named the USA International Black Belt Hall of Fame’s 2013 Wing Chun Instructor of the Year.

Damiano now also has academies underneath his banner in St. Louis, Boston and Las Vegas.

Chris Damiano Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Jiu Jitsu
Over the last four years, Damiano has added Gracie Jiu Jitsu to his repertoire, studying under fellow 30-plus year martial artist Sensei Brandon Hetzler, who has achieved black belts of varying degrees in Fudoshin Taijutsu, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Sifo Damiano still splits his time between his contracting work and martial arts, teaching three days per week, but with other instructors, the academy is used 5-6 days per week.

centerline-martial-arts-chris-damiano8

The Need for Mats
With his current academy being located in the second story of an office building and his teaching expanding beyond Wing Chun to striking/kickboxing and jiu jitsu, he quickly discovered that concrete flooring was no longer suitable for his practices.

That’s when he discovered Greatmats martial arts floors. One of his friends with a big Karate school told him about Greatmats, and Hetzler, who has used Greatmats flooring in his home dojo for six years, both highly recommended Greatmats to Sifu Damiano.

In 2012, Damiano equipped his academy with Greatmats 20 mm inch thick martial arts mats and a pro pole pad. While he was happy with the quality of the mats, they proved to be too thin for his judo and jiu jitsu work – especially in the kids classes. So he ordered three of Greatmats’ 2 inch thick 4×10 foot folding mats to add more cushion for those exercises.

Centerline Martial Arts Chris Damiano Greatmats MMA Grappling Mats

Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats
In 2015, he upgraded to Greatmats’ 1 5/8 inch thick Grappling MMA Mats, with a no burn tatami surface and 4-foot critical fall height rating, and sold off his 7/8 inch mats to students for garage workout areas.

”These mats are not as taxing on the body for what I’m doing now,” Sifu Damiano said. ”I love those mats! My school’s completely covered in it except for my back room.”

With approximately 20 students per class and 45 of his 60 students being adults, the mats are regularly put to the test.

”Those mats get an awful lot of use every night,” He added. ”The overall quality of those mats are great. They’re durable. We usually do 45 minutes of technique and eight 5-minute rounds of sparring/grappling. We always start standing. Using wrestling takedowns or judo takedowns, three rounds of kickboxing and three rounds of kickboxing with takedowns. I love that tatami top.”

Pole Padding
The Grappling MMA mats have eliminated his need for the folding mats, but added that the pole pad is still a ”very needed piece” in his school, noting that it is often used as a circuit training tool.

”People use it to train on; kids kick it,” Sifu Damiano said. ”Sometimes I use that to line them up, and they can do some of their striking on that as part of the stations.”

A believer in ”time put in equals skill,” Sifu Damiano has definitely put in his time, and for the last five years, that time has been put in over Greatmats martial arts floors.

Centerline Martial Arts class on Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats and Greatmats Pole Paddding
Chris Damiano
Centerline Martial Arts
Destin FL 32550
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Jim Fiore – Centering life through Jiu Jitsu

Taekwondo Black Belt rounding out game with BJJ

By Brett Hart

A lifelong athlete, Jim Fiore, age 40, of Biloxi Mississippi, has done everything from backpacking to marathons to rock climbing and martial arts. A former university researcher and personal trainer, he is a World Taekwondo Federation blackbelt, but found his calling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Jim Fiore AGF grappling tournament Greatmats

”I remember, I was a red belt or a brown belt in taekwondo and there was a jiu jitsu school down the street,” Fiore said. ”I remember my taekwondo instructor being like ‘This is really good stuff. We’re going to start integrating grappling into your second-degree program.”’

Intrigued by that notion, Fiore visited the school to see what it was all about.

”My understanding 10 years ago of the martial arts was – if you’re a black belt, you should be able to handle yourself, regardless. You’re a black belt. … I remember going in there, and I got my butt handed to me by a young man anywhere from 16 to 18. I was like ‘What the heck just happened to me. Here I am almost a black belt in taekwondo and I don’t know anything about the martial arts.’ My pride got the best of me.”

With failure not being an option, Fiore finished his journey to black belt in Taekwondo under Master Antulio Garza, and started pursuing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without question.

”More and more I just realized the false sense of security I had,” he said. ”It just got to a point where I was training more and more and more in jiu jitsu and just kind of fell in love with it. Eight years later, here I am running a school and a brown belt (in Judo and Jiu Jitsu). … I just love the grappling arts. I love judo. I’ve been fortunate to practice taekwondo and learn how to strike fairly well. … Plus, it’s just really cool to fight somebody and not get in trouble for it.”

As the manager for American Martial Art Academy for three years, Fiore focuses his school on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while incorporating concepts of judo, sambo and wrestling, under the Soul Fighters BJJ Association umbrella.

He draws upon his training from Soul Fighter BJJ Black Belts Erick Raposo, Marcus Antelante, Bruno Mendes, and Rafael Formiga Barbosa.

Jim Fiore and Erick Raposo at American Martial Art Academy Mississippi Greatmats

Adaptation

”My wife’s in the military, so I’ve kind of had to adapt to where we live,” Fiore said. ”I actually have a masters in microbiology and biotechnology and so I was a researcher several years at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine… Once we moved to San Antonio, down to Lackland Air Force Base, then I switched over to personal training. I’ve always kind of had this battle between brain and brawn. My brawn finally kind of won.”

Tapping into his entrepreneurial spark and new-found passion for jiu jitsu, Fiore had earned a high enough rank and enough capital that he felt comfortable opening his own school by the time he and his wife had moved to Mississippi three years ago.

His instincts were on point, and his school quickly outgrew its original space, so he moved it to a new 2,500 square foot location where he now has 1,100 square feet of mats. Fiore was recently even able to bring in a black belt of his own to teach the classes.

”I met our head professor here, Erick Raposo, out at IBJJF World Masters,” Fiore said. ”He and I hit it off. I brought him up here from Brazil, got him his green card. Now he’s our head professor here. That was one of the best business decisions that I’ve made. … There’s something just genuine when you have a black belt teaching all of your classes.”

That decision also gave Fiore more opportunities to focus on competition and coaching.

”When I go to compete… it gives me that drive to keep going. It inspires me to bring back that resilience to my students,” he said. ”I definitely want to try to win IBJJF world master at some point.”

Jim Fiore grappling at AGF tournament Greatmats

Competing in the American Grappling Federation

Fiore and his team recently competed in a pair of Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation tournaments in Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. In fact, he won his absolute division and his school brought home the trophy from Jackson.

”Being here for 2 solid plus years and winning a major regional tournament is huge for my school,” he said, noting that the tournament also improved his competitive skills.

After winning his division in New Orleans, Fiore received a compliment from AGF co-founder Brandon Quick he’ll never forget.

”Today, you demonstrated why you are a brown belt,” Quick said.

”To hear another black belt that I respect say that to me, that was one of my proudest moments,” Fiore recalled.

”I will send my guys to an AGF tournament all the time,” Fiore added. ”I don’t have any reservations about the safety, my guys having fun at that tournament, the efficiency of the tournament or finishing on time…. They’re always bettering the competition not only for the competitors but also the coaches and the spectators. They’re truly listening to everybody. .. They understand sometimes the financial restrictions of families. … A white belt has more opportunity to become a better fighter in AGF.”

”When I was fighting AGF, it was actually setting me up very nicely to fight IBJJF as a brown belt,” he added. ”I’m a lot more comfortable now going to IBJJF or other tournaments.”

Jim Fiore on podium AGF 2017 Jackson BJJ Championships Greatmats

Centering

”Without jujitsu, my life would really probably be pretty crummy,” he added. ”It tells you the type of person you are. … The overall camaraderie, the support, the brotherhood is infectious. No matter how good you are, that mat will just humble you every single day. … The amount of heart and perseverance that you need to have to come in here and have your butt handed to you every single day, man that makes life outside so much easier. It just centers my life.”

That’s something much needed as he and his wife are expecting a daughter in September.

”I’m looking forward to having her on the mat with us in a couple years,” Fiore said.

When that happens, three generations of Fiore’s will don the jiu jitsu gi, as Jim’s father is currently a two-stripe white belt at the age of 67.

”He and I have done a lot of things together throughout our lives,” Jim said. ”It’s increased our bond together. It’s really fun to have your dad or your son or your daughter on the mat with you.”

Jim Fiore BJJ Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

Jim Fiore
American Martial Art Academy
D’lberville MS
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page

Cerebral Palsy Won’t Stop BJJ Fighter Nick Turnbo

Missouri teen inspired to overcome challenges through Jiu Jitsu

By Brett Hart

”Fight” is something Nick Turnbo has had from the very beginning. Born 12 weeks early, Turnbo weighed in at just 1 pound 6 ounces and spent his first three weeks of life on a ventilator and feeding tube. In his first 2 1/2 months, he more than tripled in weight and was strong enough to go home.
Nick Turnbo at St Louis BJJ Championships AGF Greatmats
By 8 months old, he was back on the ventilator and feeding tube for two weeks due to a case of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Living with Cerebral Palsy, his next 14 years included surgeries on his eyes, spine, heel cords and hamstring.

Despite needing a walker, in the last year, Nick, now age 19, has become a fighter in more traditional sense, as he began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and under the tutelage of Mike Rogers and Matt Ricehouse of St. Charles MMA (SCMMA) in St. Charles, Missouri, and weight training under the direction of Sam Richardson.

”It’s no surprise to me that Nick takes on the physical challenges that he does,” said his mom, Patty.

Nick Turnbo and Mike Rogers Greatmats

Inspiration
Nick first became interested in MMA after watching his friend, Johnny Cox, fight locally.

”I sat cage side and almost felt I was a part of the fight,” Nick said after watching Cox fight for the first time. ”They were so close, I swear I felt sweat from the fighters hit my face. I was hooked.”

At that point, he sought out more fights to watch on television and in person.

”I recall watching my first Bellator fight – Michael Chandler vs. Patricky Pitbull (Freire) 2011,” Nick said.

Chandler, an alumnus of Nick’s high school, Northwest High School, defeated Freire by unanimous decision to improve his pro record to 8-0 and earn a title shot against Eddie Alvarez – which he won six months later by a rear-naked choke.

”It was so exciting to see a hometown boy make it big!,” Nick said.

Chandler even reached out to Nick later, giving him floor seats to his June 24, 2016, rematch with Freirie at Bellator 157, at which he knocked out Freire with a punch to claim the title once again.

”(Chandler) even came to my seat after winning the Lightweight Belt,” Turnbo said.

Nick Turnbo BJJ fighter with cerebral palsy Greatmats

Training begins
In December 2014, Nick sought out Richardson’s help for MMA training.

”I began training two times a week, grappling and hitting the mitts,” Nick said. ”I was learning all the submissions and moves I had seen my favorite fighters do. Sam showed me that I could do it; he gave me the motivation I need to get off the couch and get rollin’!”

Then at one of the local fights, he met Rogers, a second-degree black belt in BJJ under Rodrigo Vaghi with a background in boxing and wrestling as well.

Nick Turnbo cerbral palsy BJJ fighter Rodrigo Vaghi

Nick told Rogers, ”My dream is to one day fight in the cage.”

So Rogers invited Nick to train with him at SCMMA and Nick jumped on the opportunity. In his first session at SCMMA, Nick worked with UFC flyweight Josh Sampo.

”BJJ is the best form of self defense because of all the ground techniques,” Nick said. It also has helped Nick with developing good eating and exercise habits.

Now a three-stripe white belt, Nick, working on his weight training and mitt work with Richardson, his technical BJJ with Rogers, and some additional training at Team Vaghi Headquarters in Ellisville, Mo., claimed first place in his division at the Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation (AGF) St. Louis BJJ Championships in St. Charles on July 15 – his first AGF tournament.

”It was not until my opponents tapped, did I realize the amount of cheering,” Nick said. ”It was a wonderful experience, and (I) cannot wait for the next AGF Tournament.

Even after Nick earned his first gold medal, Rogers said, ”Nick’s biggest accomplishment is BJJ so far is making the move to start and not stop. He’s done technique tests and passed everything. I like his enthusiasm and that he proves once again that BJJ is for everyone.”

Both Turnbo and Rogers are especially pleased with the AGF for providing organized competitions with strong competitors, team scoring and a pleasant staff.

”I never imagined MMA could be such an influence on my life,” Nick said. ”It is only through the overwhelming support and encouragement that I have been able to accomplish so much.”

american grappling federation logo greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

Nick Turnbo
St. Charles MMA
St. Charles MO 63303
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page.

Magness BJJ wins 2017 AGF Dallas Summer Classic

Alvarez BJJ in Top 2 of Every Division

Almost 90 martial arts academies earned team points at the 2017 American Grappling Federation’s Dallas Summer Classic. The grappling tournament was held on August 5 at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, Texas. The tournament was sponsored by Greatmats.

Magness BJJ climbed their way to the top of the overall team standings with 400 points. Alvarez BJJ followed closely behind with 371 points. BQuick JJ followed in third place with a total of 207 points.

Magness BJJ placed in the top 2 teams in three out of four divisions. They claimed the titles in the Adults No Gi and Kids No Gi divisions. They placed second in the Kids Gi division.

Alvarez BJJ claimed first in the Adults Gi and Kids Gi divisions and second in Adults No Gi and Kids No Gi divisions. Fortunately, for Magness BJJ was the fact that it held a 86 point lead in the Kids No Gi division.

All American MMA claimed thired in the Kids No Gi. BQuick JJ placed third in both adult divisions and Kids Gi division.

Top 10 Overall Team Scores

  • Magness BJJ 400
  • Alvarez BJJ 371
  • BQuick JJ 207
  • All American MMA 125
  • Genesis Jiu Jitsu 119
  • Guetho Texas 119
  • Lovato BJJ 117
  • Sandro Sampaio BJJ Academy 109
  • Frequency BJJ 89
  • Zombie BJJ 85

Kids BJJ tournament AGF Dallas 2017 GreatmatsKids No Gi BJJ tournament AGF Dallas 2017 GreatmatsKids BJJ tournament AGF Dallas 2017 GreatmatsBJJ tournament AGF Dallas 2017 Greatmatsadult BJJ tournament AGF Dallas 2017 Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

2017 Dallas Summer Classic
American Grappling Federation
North Richland Hills TX 76180
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World Champion Ellwanger ‘United’ with BJJ Excellence

Ellwanger Won’t Let Himself, or His Students, Be ‘Burned’ by Inferior Mats

Gracie United Video

By Brett Hart

A lifelong martial artist, Rafael Ellwanger, began testing out different disciplines at age 4 when his mother enrolled him in judo classes. After training in Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Boxing, Muay Thai and Krav Maga, Ellwanger found his calling when he started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – 21 years ago.

In 1997, as a 21-year-old college student, Ellwanger fought in his first competition as a blue belt at the Pan-American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament in Hawaii and earned a bronze medal.

”That day, I realized I would like to be a martial artist for life,” Ellwanger said.

Rafael Ellwanger with Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

That wasn’t an easy dream to pursue, however, as being a martial artist in Brazil was a blue collar job, and it meant leaving a great computer science job. Although his mother has always been a great motivator for Rafael, his family was not particularly supportive of him pursuing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a career. This impeded Rafael’s confidence to jump head first into that dream. Nevertheless, that dream was meant to be.

Chasing the Dream
Training under Professor Ailson ”Jucao” Brites and Carlos Gracie, Jr., in Brasilia, Brazil, Ellwanger represented Gracie Barra for 17 years. On March 26, 2006, Rafael moved to the United States and, two weeks later, was awarded his black belt.

Carlos Gracie Jr and Rafael Ellwanger in 2011 Greatmats

The following year, Ellwanger began the South USA Grappling Association because, ”The jiu jitsu community need a well organized event in the area – and several events a year.”

”Our people used to travel to Georgia and Texas to compete,” he added. ”I invested all I had to provide a good event when nobody believed in BJJ in the south, and there was no money to be made. Now, we have several other players doing events here.”

Part of that investment meant getting new mats for his Gracie United Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms and SUGA tournaments. After much research, he chose Greatmats’ 1 5/8 inch thick Grappling MMA Mats. He said he chose Greatmats Grappling Mats because of their price, quality, lightweight nature, non-slip surface and most importantly – ”no mat burns.”

Gracie United Team Greatmats

In 2012, Ellwanger opted to leave Gracie Barra in order to rejoin forces with Jucao ”like the good old days.”

”He was always my mentor and a leader, and it did not feel right to be on different teams,” Ellwanger said. ”That was the best decision I ever made.”

The next year, Ellwanger won the 2013 International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Black Belt Master 2 Division World Championship. And within six months, he was on top of the world again, earning the IBJJF #1 Black Belt world ranking.

Rafael Ellwanger 2006 Jiu Jitsu Championship Greatmats

Passing on the Legacy
Ellwanger, now a third degree black belt, owns two Louisiana-based gyms – one in Hammond/Ponchatoula, and one in Mandeville. On top of that, he now has 18 students who own and operate their own gyms under the the Gracie United banner – in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Professor Jucao has another 20 locations across five countries – United States, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Eighteen Gracie United gyms are now equipped with Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats – as well as Ellwanger’s federation.

”They are perfect for BJJ,” Ellwanger said. ”Not slippery, two colors and no mat burns!”

”I would guess we have 2,500 puzzle mats… from Greatmats. … We bought our mats in 2007, when we expanded from our very first gym. I decided to make the investment and… use the mats in the federation and the gym. Since then, I keep selling my used mats from the federation to the new school owners and rebuying new mats from Greatmats to replace them – and keep them new and nice.”

An additional benefit he’s found with Greatmats Grappling Mats is the ability for growth.

”I can always add or replace mats when I need it,” Ellwanger said. ”We move several locations and all gyms have a different shape and size. If you buy roll mats, you might have to cut it, and they usually come 6 feet wide – very hard to add and expand.”

High Impact Sport
As part of Rafael’s journey through BJJ he’s found that helping others achieve their goals is the most rewarding part.

”No matter what it is and how hard it would be, we are in the position to impact people’s lives,” he said.

His life has been impacted by the sport as well.

Rafael’s wife, Brea, is also a fighter and travels all over the world to compete. A few months after starting BJJ, however, she became pregnant and stopped training for almost two years.

Brea and Ariana Ellwanger Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Greatmats

Even so, ”she was there watching and paying attention,” Rafael said. ”When she came back, she was on fire. It was a lot of work to catch up from that two-year break.”

Brea was a 2015 world medalist and earned a gold medal at the 2016 IBJJF Pan American Championships Purple Master 1 Heavy Division. She was also ranked one of the top 15 purple belts in the world.

In the Blood
This BJJ power couple is keeping the sport in its bloodlines as well, as their two children also compete. Their son, Zion, is a 17-year-old blue belt, while the daughter, Ariana, is a 7-year-old gray belt.

”Both train and compete a lot,” Rafael said, noting that Zion is naturally talented and loves triangles while Ariana is an extremely hard worker.

Even though Rafael outranks the rest of his family, he says Brea is still the boss. And, as he approaches his 40th birthday, he is thankful for all of his mentors and training partners, including Brea, who helped him become the man he is today.

”It is very hard to be a husband and coach at the same time,” Rafael said. ”Things get tricky, and she gets mad sometimes. But it is all good – nothing a couple of nights on the couch would not fix.”

Learn about the Ellwanger’s 2016 South USA Grappling Association Tournament Season

Rafael Ellwanger
Gracie United BJJ
Ponchatoula LA 70454
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Alberto Da Silva – Tough guy finds peace with Jiu Jitsu

BJJ black belt turns from payback to paying it forward

By Brett Hart

A humbling street fight experience spurred a ”tough guy” from New York to join an underground jiu jitsu club, and eventually turn that into a career helping others.

Alberto Da Silva grappling AGF BJJ tournament Greatmats

Former United States Air Force staff sergeant Alberto Da Silva recalls first being exposed to the martial arts when his parents ”got tired of beating my butt and getting no response. So they paid someone else to do it.”

However, he had his eyes opened to the sport jiu jitsu in high school when a kid named Andre used it to knock him back a peg in high school.

”I used to think I was tough,” Da Silva said. ”He had just moved to New York from Brazil and was a yellow belt in jiu jitsu. … Sometime later we became friends.”

The duo, who ended up wrestling together for Long Island City High School in New York, would practice garage jiu-jitsu together throughout high school.

Alberto Da Silva Podium BJJ Tour Greatmats
After high school, Da Silva discovered a new fitness gym in Astoria Queens, and while working out there in 1999, he found a hidden room in the basement where a group of guys were training jiu jitsu under the instruction of Marcello Mello.

”It was there, that I earned my first real beating,” Da Silva said. ”I’ve been hooked to the science ever since.”

Now a 34-year-old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under professor Luiz Sergio ”Marra” Corra, Da Silva owns Marra Senki Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an academy in Panama City, Florida, which he runs with the help of his wife, Pamela. His daughter even trains with them almost every day.

Alberto Da Silva family BJJ Greatmats
Reaching the rank of black belt wasn’t easy for Da Silva.

”It’s been a long, rocky road,” he said. ”I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve quit a few times.”

It was during those breaks that he joined the military, traveled and went to school.

”I’ve learned a lot and have many skills from the Air Force, but I’m happy to say my profession is helping others,” Da Silva said. ”I try to visit our headquarters in San Antonio, Marra Senki Jiu-Jitsu, at least once or twice a year to train with Professor Marra.”

Alberto Da Silva's academy Marra Senki Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Greatmats
In the meantime, he actively trains with Professor Filipe ”Zicro” Neto in Tallahassee, Florida.

The evolution of the sport is what really keeps Da Silva’s attention.

”It seems like it’s growing in multiple directions at the same time,” he said. ”Techniques are constantly changing and becoming more efficient. New methods and ideas are constantly on the rise. I think that’s all extremely exciting. It’s like a student of mine said, ‘Jiu-Jitsu is like standing at the beach, looking to the ocean.’ To me it means that no matter what, there will always be room to learn more.”

Da Silva’s students recently drove 5 hours to compete at the Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Jacksonville BJJ Championships at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville, Florida, and brought home a third-place overall finish. His traveling team performed particularly well in the Kids No Gi Division where it placed second.

Da Silva most enjoys attending AGF tournament because of the crew.

”They’re professionals,” he said. ”You can tell that that enjoy what they do. They take the time to know the people around them. It’s like they have this southern hospitality to them. … AGF is the main organization our school in Panama City follows for competition.”

While his journey into jiu jitsu started with the desire to beat up his childhood nemesis, Da Silva is now motivated by peace.

”Jiu-Jitsu is my peace in this world,” he said. ”Even on the worst of days, I can always find peace in the struggle of a roll.”

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.American Grappling Federation logo sponsored by Greatmats

Alberto Da Silva
Marra Senki Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Panama City FL 32405
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Joshua Bowlin team AGF Columbus BJJ championships Greatmats

Joshua Bowlin Motivated by the Daily Grind of BJJ

Georgia Instructor leads team to AGF Columbus Championship

By Brett Hart

Joshua Bowlin, 31, began his martial arts career looking to fight MMA. He trained in wrestling, boxing and Muay Thai, but it was is jiu jitsu training that really grabbed his attention.Joshua Bowlin grappling martial arts Greatmats

”Getting punched in the head gets old over time,” Bowlin jokes. ”BJJ to me is a huge outlet for stress, self expression and creativity. I practice it because it challenges my mind and body on a day-to-day basis.”

His jiu jitsu training began in a little self defense gym where he learned under the instruction of army ranger and Gracie Barra black belt, Pedro Lacerda. After Lacerda passed away due to a brain aneurysm at the age of 30 (in 2010), Bowlin went on to earn his black belt under Professor Fabio Costa of Gracie Barra Georgia and became owner and head instructor at Gracie Barra Columbus.

Joshua Bowlin teaching class Gracie Barra Columbus Greatmats

Bowlin says his favorite part about BJJ is the ”endless supply of knowledge. There’s always something to improve.”

”The grind motivates me,” he added. ”The day-to-day victories; whether it’s my own victories or my students’ victories. When a technique finally clicks, and there’s that little sparkle in their eyes, along with the ‘AHA!’ moment. (It’s) very gratifying.”

One of the competitive highlights for the MMA convert was defeating Samir Chantre in the finals of the Open Weight Adult Black Belt No Gi Division title at the 2016 Atlanta Open.

Joshua Bowlin with youth students Gracie Barra Columbus Greatmats”I firmly believe if you’re not challenging yourself and trying to be the best person you can be, you become stagnant and lose purpose of what’s important in life,” Bowlin said. ”Competition is the fastest way to find holes in our game. Being out there, feeling the adrenaline, and the pressure really imprints the memory of how the match transpires. So when you get back to the gym, you know exactly what you did wrong and what you have to work on.”

At the recent Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Columbus BJJ Championships on May 20, 2017, Bowlin’s Gracie Barra Columbus team claimed a dominant overall team victory, along with divisional titles in the Kids No Gi, Kids Gi and Adult Gi Divisions.

Joshua Bowlin team AGF Columbus BJJ championships Greatmats

”Watching the kids apply everything they’ve been taught – the sportsmanship and discipline each one of them displayed was incredible,” Bowlin said. ”It made me very proud. Also watching each one of our adults place was awesome. Those guys and girls train so hard and put everything they have into every session. It was awesome to see the hard work pay off.”

Bowlin is impressed by the professionalism and organization at American Grappling Federation events.

”The refs are great with the kids and know what they’re doing… super patient,” Bowlin said. ”I haven’t had a bad experience with them yet. We will always support AGF, especially when they visit Columbus, Georgia.”

Joshua Bowlin team Gracie Barra Columbus Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

 

Joshua Bowlin
Gracie Barra Columbus
Columbus GA 31909
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page.